The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) has renamed its visiting professorship program in honor of long-time Cleveland Clinic gastroenterologist Edgar Achkar, MD. Through the ACG Edgar Achkar Visiting Professorship Program, GI fellowship programs of all sizes are drawing national leaders to present to trainees and their local GI community at no cost.
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The program began in 2013 but was renamed in 2015 to honor Dr. Achkar’s contributions to the ACG. He served on its Board of Trustees for many years – as president from 2001 to 2002 – and as director of its Institute for Clinical Research & Education from 2005 to 2011. He was senior associate editor of the American Journal of Gastroenterology from 2003 to 2009, and in 2004 he received the ACG’s Samuel S. Weiss Award for Outstanding Service.
Mentoring trainees for three decades
Dr. Achkar cared for patients in Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease Institute for more than 30 years and was celebrated for his work with trainees in the gastroenterology and hepatology fellowship programs. He received Cleveland Clinic’s Senior Fellows Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006 and 2008.
Now retired from clinical practice, he continues to instruct GI trainees.
“I’ve been training fellows since the beginning of my career,” says Dr. Achkar. “Helping them learn has always helped me learn. Even now, as I teach them an approach to a clinical condition and challenge them, I find that they’re also teaching and challenging me.”
Dr. Achkar worked with the ACG Institute for Clinical Research & Education to develop the visiting professorship program so trainees all over the U.S. can learn from top GI leaders.
“As budgets have tightened, we’ve realized the need for supporting GI training programs,” says Dr. Achkar. “Bringing in outside instructors to interact with fellows and add an external point of view is valuable, but fewer programs today can afford it. That’s why the ACG Institute is providing grants so training institutions can bring in nationally recognized speakers at no cost.”
About the Edgar Achkar Visiting Professorship Program
During the 2015-2016 academic year, the ACG Institute will fund eight visiting professorships (covering travel costs and honoraria) in a variety of clinical GI disciplines. Training program applicants determine topics and identify their preferred speakers. Past presentations have addressed esophageal cancer, functional bowel disorders, upper GI motility, diverticular disease and other topics.
In addition to world-class educational presentations, visiting experts provide informal mentoring and role modeling to trainees over a two- to three-day period.
Any sized training program in North America can apply for an ACG visiting professorship. To be selected, programs must explain a specific need and demonstrate how their chosen speaker can best fulfill it. Training programs must agree to promote the visiting professorship throughout their local GI community, such as planning a gut club event or inviting local physicians to GI grand rounds.
About Dr. Achkar
Dr. Achkar earned his medical degree at St. Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1964. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Lahey Clinic in Boston in 1967, as well as a fellowship in gastroenterology in 1968. He completed a second fellowship in gastroenterology at Cleveland Clinic in 1969.
After beginning his clinical practice at Rizk Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, he joined Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Gastroenterology in 1976. During his tenure, he served on Cleveland Clinic’s Board of Governors and Board of Trustees in addition to holding numerous leadership positions, including:
- Vice Chairman, Department of Gastroenterology/Hepatology (1994–2006)
- Director, Office of Clinical Effectiveness (1997–2002)
- Associate Chief of Staff (1995–2002)
- Vice Chairman, Digestive Disease Institute (2008–2009)
Listed for many years among the Best Doctors in America, Dr. Achkar received the Distinguished Clinician of the Year Award from the American Gastroenterology Association in 1998. He was named a master by the ACG in 2008 and by the American College of Physicians in 2010.